Kobe Bryant’s injured wrist did not prevent the All-Star guard from lifting the LA Lakers to a 99-82 win over the visiting New York Knicks on Thursday.
Skipping, spinning and grinning, Bryant unleashed his full arsenal of moves while scoring 13 of his 28 points in the third quarter despite playing through a right wrist injury.
Bryant also dished out a pair of game-clinching assists in the final quarter to give the Lakers their second win in a row following an 0-2 start to the season.
Los Angeles also looked more comfortable with first-year coach Mike Brown’s game plan as they took control in the first quarter and never let go.
“Obviously, Kobe is Kobe,” Brown told reporters. “You can’t downplay what he does because he did everything for us.”
The Lakers held the Knicks to just 31 percent shooting and never allowed the visitors to settle. Los Angeles, with Pau Gasol scoring 16 and grabbing 10 rebounds, took a 63-51 halftime lead and New York got no closer than eight in the second half.
“We’re growing as a team,” Lakers guard Steve Blake told reporters after finishing with 11 points. “Every day in practice, every game we grow more comfortable.”
New York’s Carmelo Anthony scored a team-high 27 and Amar’e Stoudemire had 15, but made just 4 of 17 shots as the Knicks fell to 1-2.
“You have to be able to score,” New York coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We just weren’t able to make shots. We’re not moving the ball and not playing real well as a team right now.”
The Knicks did not defend particularly well either, allowing the Lakers to shoot 52 percent.
Tyson Chandler, signed in the off-season to bolster the Knicks’ defense, finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds, but his presence inside did not deter the Lakers.
Bryant showed signs of discomfort in his wrist at times as he flexed his hand during free throws and breaks in the action.
However, he was at his most entertaining in the third quarter where he recorded 13 points, including a 32-foot three-pointer that drew a foul and ended up a four-point play.
In the final few minutes of the game, Bryant found Blake and Matt Barnes for consecutive three-pointers to put the game away.
The Lakers are expected to welcome back center Andrew Bynum today against Denver after serving a suspension for a flagrant foul during last season’s playoffs.
THUNDER 104, MAVERICKS 102
In Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant’s buzzer-beating three-pointer lifted Oklahoma City to victory over Dallas that left the reigning champion Mavericks without a win in three games this season.
Durant finished with 30 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka contributed 16 points apiece as the Thunder overcame 26 turnovers to improve to 4-0 in the lockout-shortened season.
Dallas, who defeated the Thunder in last season’s Western Conference Finals, fell to 0-3.
“We’re making some strides, we forced a lot of turnovers, but making progress and being the team you need to be are two different things,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said.
Dirk Nowitzki, the MVP of the NBA finals as he led the Mavericks past Miami in the championship series in June, led Dallas with 29 points and 10 rebounds.
At times the Mavericks displayed the fluid offense that took them to their first league crown.
They erased a five-point deficit in the final minute, Nowitzki feeding Vince Carter for a three-pointer that gave Dallas a 102-101 lead with 1.4 seconds to play.